Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Firing Squad of the Universal Yentas ( Rosh Hashanah 1st Day 2021 5782)

Link to recording of the sermon 


2021  Rosh Hashanah day 1

The Firing Squad of the Universal Yentas


I want to tell you of an open and shut case that once came before a Rabbi.

Chaim and Yankel came to court to plead their case before the Rabbi. .Court, in those days, was nothing other than the Rabbis study, and, in the room adjoining, that is the kitchen, is the Rabbi's wife, who, while plucking chickens, was always listening in as the Rabbi's unofficial chief advisor.

Chaim opens his case." On the fifth of this month, I bought from Yankel a tool, etc, etc, etc".

            The Rabbi listens seriously, looks down into his beard, ponders, and declares, "It seems to me that the facts indicate that Chaim is right."

"But Rabbi, "Yankel replies in defense, "On the fifth of this month when I sold Haim this tool, etc, etc, etc."

Again the Rabbi listens intently, ponders, and announces, "It seems to me that Yankel is right.'

At which point, the Rebbetzin sticks her head into the study and protests. "Wait a minute. How can both of them be right."

Again the Rabbi ponders and announces. "It seems to me that the Rebbetzin is also right."

Very often, when we have a quarrel with someone, or have to decide between two people arguing, we tend to think of the situation as an open and shut case. We forget to look at both sides of the issue, and like the Rabbi of the story, we often pronounce judgement at the first crack, without looking at the other side . It can also truly happen, despite the Rebbetzin’s protest, that both sides can be right.

In truth we all know that judging people's actions or character is not restricted to Rabbis in the synagogue or judges in court.

We can certainly say that we have gone through a pandemic over the past few years, not the viral COVID-19, but the “ verbal” kind, sent viral by text, tweat, email, tik tok, whatever platform you like.

We get caught in a rush to judgement. I have no need to belabor what has been so much written about- that we live in an echo chamber, in which even a small whisper bounces off the walls of one end of the earth to the other, without end.

Let me give you just a simple example, this one, no so bitter or nasty, but still appropriate. At the Olympics this summer, Simone Bail, the famous gymnast, backed out of the competition in the last minute, for a variety of reasons that involved a very risky maneuver. Within seconds, the “chatter boxes” were on, either that she was some great saint for declining or a traitor to her team for declining. Suddenly, everyone in the world became an expert on athletes, the dangers of the Games, the traumas of women, traumas of race. Everyone knew exactly what and why, when, in truth, no one knew, except for Simone Bail ! I can only say that I am happy for her that she decided to go back to the competition and performed very well and I hope that she goes on to fulfill her dreams.

Fortunately, she escaped major damage, not just from somersaults, but even more, from what I would call, the firing squad of the “universal yentas.”

You know the Yenta- as in Fiddler’s Yenta-the matchmaker- of course, in her business, she must know everyone, have the inside scoop on everyone, and she must render judgement on everyone. In the past year, the American equivalent has been the Karen- I really apologize to all the women named Karen, and I want to be fair- I use Yenta equally for men and for women in our modern era.

But it’s not a funny song in Fiddler. In our day ,it has become far more malevolent than this- people are fired, books are banned, professors are boycotted, careers are ruined. This is happening, not to the Yahoos and Rednecks and Hicks , but to stalwarts of the well-educated, liberals, who are lined up in front of the firing squad of the Universal Yentas who present themselves as even more Catholic than the  Pope( pardon my mixed metaphors).

I go back to the Olympics this summer. Here’s from one source:

       Bill Maher, who is hardly your typical MAGA-hatter,  slammed cancel culture at the Tokyo Olympics, going after a “woke” attitude at the Games.

Maher pointed to several ousters that occurred leading up to the Games, which he called a “purge.” He gave several examples,

“This is called a purge. It’s a mentality that belongs in Stalin’s Russia,” Maher said. “How bad does this atmosphere we are living in have to get before the people who say cancel culture is overblown admit that it is in fact an insanity that is swallowing up the world?”

Maher continued by saying his politics have not changed but that “I am reacting to politics that have.”

This is another example of how the woke invert the very thing that used to make the liberals liberal. Snitches and b******? That's not being liberal."

( Maher specifically took issued with the idea of cultural appropriation."Of all the violations of the woke penal code, cultural appropriation just might be the dumbest of all," he said."Most of human history is a horror story, but the good parts are about different groups coming together and sharing. It's sort of the whole point of the Olympics.""Newer doesn't automatically mean better, this new idea that each culture must remain in its own separate silo is not better and it's not progress," he said."In fact, it's messing with one of the few ideas that still makes this melting point called America great.")  https://www.newsweek.com/bill-maher-bemoans-cancel-culture-surrounding-woke-olympics-1614936

The ancient Biblical sceptic, the Bill Maher of his day, Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, said, “Mah Shehaya, hu sheyiheh”, What was, will be in the future too. He even knew of twitter before there was a tweet:” For a bird of the air may carry the utterance, And a winged creature may report the word.” ( 10:20)

Two thousand years ago, our sages knew that a rumor whispered in Jerusalem was heard very quickly in Rome- and that was at a time that the word could spread, by ship, at best, 6 miles per hour.

Today, the rumor spreads before you even hit the send button! The Universal Yentas never disappeared. They just picked up speed.

We know very well that people have engaged in “ snap judgements” and a rush to slander. The Rabbis called in “the triple”, because, of slander, they said, It kills three times- It kills the target of slander, it comes back to kill the one who started the slander, and eventually, it comes back to kill the by-stander who was only too eager to spread the virus.

We don’t have to be among the “ woke” crowd to do this. We don’t need to be on a social media device. We do this on our own, in our heads. We rush to judgement very easily. We all fall for our own off-the-cuff decisions and we quickly pre-judge others--" too noisy", "shifty," "untrustworthy"; or, just the opposite , we may naively entrust our fortunes to a stranger on first impressions alone.

To hire or fire a worker--To pass or fail a student--Even to trust or distrust the faithfulness of a spouse.

Entire futures can be made or crushed based on our judgements.

            So , what should we do before we rush to send out our invectives, or hit the “ unfriend” or “ Thumbs down button”, before we become another nagging Yenta.

The Torah gives us three principles on which to base our judgements: Love Your neighbor as yourself; You shall not pervert your judgement by favoritism; and you shall not hate your brother in your heart nor hold a grudge.

V’ ahavta Le Reacha Kamocha--Love your neighbor as yourself. As Rabbi Akiba declared--zeh klal gadol batorah--That is the general principal of the Torah.

Our traditional commentaries provide the deeper meaning. How is it possible to love another person as we love ourselves? That is, after all , a command to have a feeling, and feelings cannot be commanded, only an action, a deed, can be insisted upon. The Hebrew word used for "as yourself" is " kamocha". Our Rabbis point out that “as yourself” does not tell you how you feel, but who your neighbor is. Your neighbor is- kamocha- as yourself, he or she is just like you, with all your qualities, and with all your faults. The language of that chapter in the Torah very clearly indicates, without any doubt, that it applies not just to our physical neighbor, or fellow Jew, but to the stranger as well.

What does "like you" mean?

            If I have my struggles in life to deal with, then you do too. If you have struggles in life to deal with, the I do also. I must then act in a loving manner towards you, my neighbor, as we are both dealing with the same issues in life.        

            When we recognize that our neighbor is just as capable of good as we are, then it changes how we go through our day as we look at those around us.

The second principle is Lo Takiru panim bamishpat- You shall not show favoritism in judgement.

            Judgement is not restricted to the courtroom. It is every day.

            That's why our Rabbis in the Ethics of the Fathers advised- ' Dan et Kol Adam b Kaf Zechut-Judge everyone with the presumption of innocence. Our sages predated ,by two thousand years  ,the great American principal that you are  innocent unless proven guilty.

Hillel went one step further. Al Tadin et Havercha ad Sh’Tagia lim’komo-Don't judge your fellow till you have stood in his place. It is the Jewish equivalent of the Native American saying, “Don't judge your fellow till you have walked a mile in his moccasins.”

We all have our share of the rude clerk or the obstinate bureaucrat, who frustrates by not listening or attending to our needs. Again, we need to give the benefit of the doubt.  Put yourself in that the other's shoes. Who knows what he may be going through-- after all, other people have trouble also- illness, disaster, financial debacles, family troubles. Al Tadin et Havercha--Don't judge your fellow until you have stood in his place.

            The third principle of judgement is the follow up: Lo Tisna Ahicha be levavecha . "Don't hate your brother in your heart."

Revenge is sweet, we are told, but like sugar, it also causes decay and disease.

Many years back, I met the minister of the Methodist Church in uptown Whittier, He told me of his experience having lived for a few months in Jordan, not long after the Six-Day War. He had spent some time visiting a Jordanian army unit, and got to know one of the officers. Would there ever be a reconciliation with Israel, he asked the officer. The officer replied," Revenge that is twenty years old is but a suckling infant "

That’s what revenge is like. It lingers on--and it kills the one who bears it; just look at much of the Middle East today. God pity the poor people of Lebanon, or Syria, or Afghanistan.

To put a stop to our disastrous putting down of each other for the least faults, let us keep in mind these words, expressed on pieces of parchment 2000 years ago, and hidden in the Caves at the Dead Sea, in the writing of Ben Sira:

"Forgive your neighbor his wrongdoing; then for your sin will you be forgiven when you pray. Shall one man cherish anger against another, and yet ask healing from the Lord? Does he have no mercy on one like himself, and yet pray for his own sins?"

Think of it before you send the next tweet.

I will finish with this little ditty by an anonymous author a century ago, much in keeping with ben Sira of two millennia earlier that fits the message for this day:

There's so much good in the worst of us

and  so much bad in the best of us

That it hardly becomes any of us

to talk about the rest of us."

            The quote speaks for itself. No more universal Yentas, please. Slow down before you tweet and retweet. May we look and deal graciously with others, so that Heaven may look graciously upon us this year and every year. Amen.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan- The Quintessential American Pragmatist Philosopher and Builder

 Notes from my Shabbat Discussion of August 28

This is a link to the discussion:


The next Odd Couple- Both Professors at my Rabbinical School-yet polar opposites


Here we look at the development of new Jewish thought in the emerging Jewish America- exemplified by two religious scholars who came from the world of Orthodoxy to give Jewish tradition a voice in a secular world. Two very diametrically opposed approaches. Rabbis ( note that the other great figures I had discussed were not trained as Rabbis) who shaped America.


Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan




Personal- his grandson- Dr. Daniel Musher was chair of Education committee when I was asst Rabbi in Beth Yeshurun, TX. His father was co-founder of cosmetic company-Aveeno (because all products include avenanthramides, but he told me confidently, named after Avraham Avinu!) The grandson davened in the Orthodox chapel of the Conservative synagogue(much like our chapel)- an Orthodox service with the one exception of mixed seating. (He broke with the chapel service only when his daughter became Bat Mitzvah).

I had the opportunity of hearing Kaplan once give a guest lecture at my seminary- he was already in his 90’s. In very American style, he presented his arguments on the blackboard in a flow-chart diagram.

In Los Angeles, Kaplans most prominent expounder- Rabbi Harold Schulweis, who helped found the first Havurah based in a synagogue ( my congregation, Beth Shalom, Whittier).

Very creative- founder  and influencer of more important Jewish institutions than you can shake a stick at!

At the same time-Very controversial-even the Reform, at its most un Halakhic- did not elicit the fiery reaction:

One of my Orthodox friends told me he was looked upon with the Moslem declaration: varied: There is no God, and Mordecai is his prophet.



The Controversy:

Even his own Rabbinical school colleagues were not happy with his position. I will explain what it was further down.

Kaplan's central idea of understanding Judaism as a religious civilization was an easily accepted position within Conservative Judaism, but his naturalistic conception of God was not as acceptable. Even at the Conservative movement's Jewish Theological Seminary, as The Forward writes, "he was an outsider, and often privately considered leaving the institution.

In 1941, the faculty illustrated its distaste with Kaplan by penning a unanimous letter to the professor of homiletics, expressing complete disgust with Kaplan's The New Haggadah for the Passover seder.[God is mostly missing from it, flips the Haggadah on its head by emphasizing Moses, who is AWOL in the traditional text] Four years later, seminary professors Alexander MarxLouis Ginzberg and Saul Lieberman went public with their rebuke by writing a letter to the Hebrew newspaper Hadoar, lambasting Kaplan's prayer book and his entire career as a rabbi."[6 

I personally recall in Israel, at our branch in Jerusalem, one person was called up for an Aliyah who was reocnstructionst-used the phrase asher kervanu- and it caused an explosion with the resident professor.


But this reaction-takes the cake:


The Herem on Rabbi Kaplan:

As reported in HaPardes, 1945


June 12, 1945, McAlpin Hotel, NYC:

Excerpt, in translation:

Text  of the Decree of Excommunication 

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

(Psalm 121:2)

The leaders of the people, rabbis of Greater New York and surroundings, heads of yeshivos, hasidic leaders, and scholars from the great yeshivos of this community, gathering together on the third day of the week of the parashah of Korah (Numbers 16:21), the second day of Rosh Hodesh Tammuz, 5705 – at the calling of the executive body of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada (Agudas HaRabonim) and of the Rabbinic Committee [Va-ad HaRabonim] of Greater New York, because of the terrible scandal done in a high-handed and openly insolent manner by a certain person called Dr. Mordecai Kaplan, in publishing a new monstrosity by the name of Siddur Tefihlos in which he demonstrated total heresy and a complete disbelief in the God of Israel and in the principles of the law of the Torah of Israel – and the future of a heresy that continues like this who can contemplate? – therefore, it has been decided unanimously and in one congregation to banish him and to excommunicate him and to separate him from the  community of Israel until he fully repents in accordance with law and custom.

We hereby publish and declare, by the authority of the King of the Universe and by the power of our holy Torah, with complete fortitude and strength and with the full weight of the law, A Total Prohibition and Total Ban on this Siddur, which must be neither seen nor found throughout all the territory of Israel, and by the bite of the snake [of excommunication], the curse of the rabbis that has no remedy is upon anyone who holds this siddur in his hand or who looks at it, whether in private or in public. Anyone who obeys all of the above will be doubly blessed.



The siddur was then burned; Soon , the Rabbis gathered there tried denying responsibility for it, claiming that one Rabbi had gotten carried away. That was in response to the terrible outcry it caused in the rest of the Jewish community, that was still aware of the book burnings of the Nazis.( The only thing close in Jewish history that is recorded was the burning of the writings of Maimonides by Domincan Friars at the instigation of the Rambam's oponents.)

Image by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) and Mordecai KaplanJuly 28, 2021,  a link back to this source, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 International copyleft license ]


What was so scandalous?

Mordecai Kaplan- could be seen as the quintessential American philosopher- highlight-Pragmatic philosophy-Do what works, not what fits theory.

(1881-1983) Lithuania- his father, a Rabbi, came to US to serve under the first Chief Rabbi of New York, Jacob Joseph. Studied at Yeshiva and also at my Rabbinical school, which at the time straddled both Orthodox and Conservative, as well as doctorate in philosophy at Columbia. Ordained by Rabbi Reines, founding of Modern Religious Zionism (Mizrachi).

A builder by nature-straddling from Orthodox to non-

As Orthodox rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, a synagogue in New York( Still active, today, affiliated with modern Orthodox Ramaz)

 In 1912, he was an advisor to the creators of the Young Israel movement of Modern Orthodox Judaism, together with Rabbi Israel Friedlander.[3] Young Israel is not so young, but it certainly is wide-spread. Several branches here in LA. It used to be on the liberal side, with mixed social dancing, today, closer to the stricter Yeshiva Orthodox world. 

He was a leader in creating the Jewish community center concept. From his time on, almost every synagogue would be built with a basketball court!

Helped found the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, still active flagship synagogue of Reconstructionist movement. There, he held 1st Bat Mitzvah service ever for his daughter!

He would go on to establish the Reconstructionist Movement, even while retaining his identity in the Conservative movement- eventually, would lead to establishment, by his son in law, of Reconstructionist Rabbinical School . I was actually one of the first applicants, but did not follow through. The premise was fascinating- 1) all students would pursue a full PhD program in some area of Judaica at a major university. In parallel, they would pursue a full rabbinic academic course, premised on the idea of learning Judaism in its course of historic development- The first year, Biblical civilization, the second, the Rabbinic period, the third, the medieval period, and, in the final year, the modern period.) I thought it was too new to risk , and I found the philosophy-too cold. The movement has since then become much more New Age/ metaphysical mystical in orientation)

 The UJ- now AJU: He called for a university setting that could present Judaism as a deep culture and developing civilization a college to train Jews to live fully in American and Jewish culture as contributing citizens, a school to train Jewish educators, and a rabbinical seminary to train creative and visionary rabbis.  called for a university setting that could present Judaism as a deep culture and developing civilization. His proposal included programs on dramatic and fine arts to stimulate Jewish artistic creativity, a college to train Jews to live fully in American and Jewish culture as contributing citizens, a school to train Jewish educators, and a rabbinical seminary to train creative and visionary rabbis in 1947.David Lieber, the second president, was associated for many years with HTBE, where he led Bible study classes.


 What burned up the Orthodox that they were ready to burn his prayer book?


Kaplan's naturalistic theology has been seen as a variant of John Dewey's philosophy: naturalism combined atheism with religious terminology in order to construct a religiously satisfying philosophy for those who had lost faith in traditional religion.( It would be wrong to say that Kaplan was an atheist- but, he was a material determinist, against “metaphysics” so that God could not be described in terms of “ spirit” separate form the world, but as “ the power that makes for salvation.”, Kaplan was also influenced by Ă‰mile Durkheim's argument that our experience of the sacred is a function of social solidarityMatthew Arnold and Hermann Cohen were among his other influences.


In agreement with prominent medieval Jewish thinkers including Maimonides, Kaplan affirmed that God is not personal, and that all anthropomorphic descriptions of God are, at best, imperfect metaphors. Kaplan's theology went beyond this to claim that God is the sum of all natural processes that allow man to become self-fulfilled:


“To believe in God means to accept life on the assumption that it harbors conditions in the outer world and drives in the human spirit which together impel man to transcend himself. To believe in God means to take for granted that it is man's destiny to rise above the brute and to eliminate all forms of violence and exploitation from human society. In brief, God is the Power in the cosmos that gives human life the direction that enables the human being to reflect the image of God.[7]


It is, one may say, theologically, having one’s cake ( God) and eating it to( turning God into a process of the material world).

Kaplan turned the Revelation of Sinai on its head. Tradition- There is first, the revelation and then the formation of a people, Israel. In Kaplan’s view” Judaism as a Civilization”, there is first and foremost, the people, and out of the people comes the revelation of the teachings of justice and ethical living.

On Halakha- he was a traditionalist in his behavior, but felt the Conservative too afraid to take major steps. Halakha- result of the people as source of authority, not Sinai, not the Rabbis- binding “ folkways”.

What is being “ reconstructed”?From My Jewish Learning: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mordecai-kaplan-founder-of-reconstructionist-judaism/

The practical side of Kaplan’s position called for the re‑establishment of a network of all‑embracing, “organic” Jewish communities around the world that would ensure the self‑perpetuation of Jewish identity and fur­ther secular as well as religious components of the Jewish heritage (art, music, philanthropy, and so on). … leadership would be democratically elected, and private religious beliefs would not be infringed upon  (Kaplan is a strong advocate of cultural and religious pluralism, and he maintains that American Jews should partici­pate fully and creatively in both Jewish and American civilizations.) To clarify the international status of Jewry, Kaplan proposed a world‑wide Jewish assembly that would adopt a formal covenant defining the Jews as a transnational people, the hub of which was Zion and the spokes the branches of the diaspora. The religion of a group is manifested in “sancta,” spiritual symbols such as persons, places, events, and writings, which inspire feelings of reverence, commemorate what the group feels is most valuable, provide continuity through the flux of history, and for­tify the collective conscience of a people. Kaplan felt a deep attachment to Jewish sancta and Jewish religious literature.

[This is essentially the most Zionist of all the movements, as it is founded upon the concept of the Jews as a people, not a religion.]


However, in elevating Jewish peoplehood, he also eliminated Jewish choseness. Thus, the Torah blessing_ Asher bachar Banu-becomes

Asher kerevanu. Musaf is eliminated, since it is in essence a petition for return of the sacrificial worship.




What did Kaplan suggest kept the center ( Conservaative) movement together?

Mordecai Kaplan's four areas of agreement (see Waxman, Tradition and Change, pp.214-215): 1)Eretz Yisrael, 2) The primacy of Religion, 3) The maximum plenitude of Jewish content, 4) The encouragement of scientific learning.( from my own course paper, later an essay in Jewish Spectator) http://www.rabbinorbert.com/2021/07/judaism-in-transition-1970.html


The Reconstructionist Movement

As a movement, it has not become major, but as an inspiration , it has been highly effective.

 Current distribution in USA: est. 38% are members of Reform synagogues, 33% Conservative, 22% Orthodox, 2% Reconstructionist, and 5% other types.( like New Age Judaism-Aleph).

The movement itself has moved back to a traditional perspective of theology:

Reconstructionist Judaism, the small religious movement famed for challenging many of Judaism’s most cherished precepts, has issued a new prayer book that defies some basic tenets of Reconstructionism itself.

Entitled “Kol Haneshama,” or voice of the soul, it is the movement’s first new prayer book in 44 years.

As its name hints, the prayer book abandons the classical Reconstructionist disdain for the spiritual and other-worldly. It is steeped in awe of Divine mysteries, including once-spurned miracles such as the parting of the Red Sea.

It even restores — albeit as an “alternative” reading — Judaism’s most defiant declaration of chosenness, the “Aleynu” prayer.




“The church maintained that having been founded by Christ, who was God incarnate, it alone, through its bishops, was the final and authoritative instrument of divine revelation. Allegiance to the church and obedience to its ordinances were the sole means to salvation. No salvation was therefore possible to anyone who remained outside the church — nulla salus extra ecclesiam. Likewise, Islam placed the main emphasis upon the Koran as the final revelation of God's will. Adherence to the teachings of the Koran, together with the recognition of Allah as God, and Mohammed as the greatest of prophets, constituted for the Moslems the sine qua non of salvation.

The Jews were not quite as emphatic as were the Christians and the Moslems in declaring the rest of mankind ineligible to salvation. Rabbinic teaching was inclined to concede that Gentiles, who were righteous or saintly, had a share in the world to come.”
Mordecai Menahem Kaplan, Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a Reconstruction of American-Jewish Life

The chief opposition to the traditional conception of God in that sense arises not from the scientific approach to the study of nature in general, or even man in general. It arises from the objective study of history. The natural sciences like physics and chemistry cannot disprove the possibility of miracles, though they may assert their improbability. But the objective study of history has established the fact that the records of miracles are unreliable, and that the stories about them are merely the product of the popular imagination. The traditional conception of God is challenged by history, anthropology and psychology; these prove that beliefs similar to those found in the Bible about God arise among all peoples at a certain stage of mental and social development, and pass through a process of evolution which is entirely conditioned by the development of the other elements in their civilization.”
Mordecai Menahem Kaplan, Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a Reconstruction of American-Jewish Life

(Page 485)
Creativity is the result of whole-souled and organic reaction to life’s values” of a reaction in which senses, emotions, imagination, and intelligence are fully aroused. It is not enough for a civilization to be rich in values of a religious or esthetic nature. Unless its people respond wholeheartedly to those values, the civilization is artificially sterile.

(Page 486)
The very significance of Judaism as a civilization would be lost, if artistic creativity in the expression of Jewish values were treated as something secondary to American Jewish life.


 “God is the Power that makes for salvation”

“God is the sum of the animating, organizing forces and relationships which are forever making a cosmos out of chaos.”

“We learn more about God when we say that love is divine than when we say God is love. A veritable transformation takes place. . . .Divinity becomes relevant to authentic experience and therefore takes on a definiteness which is accompanied by an awareness of authentic­ity.”

·  The only way to change the world is to change yourself into what you want others to be.


·  Reconstructionism seeks to put gates through the fences that divide Jews into separate groups.


·  A religion came to mean to me the sum of those habits and values, which give a people the will to live in common, to perpetuate itself and to make the best use of its collective life…[in short, the enduring definition of Reconstructionism, that we understand]… Judaism as an evolving religious civilization.


·  Science does not destroy the belief in miracle. It merely transfers that belief from the supernatural to the natural.


·  God is not the conception of the ordering principle in the universe, but of a power predisposing humans to their ultimate human good, provided each person does his/her share learning about and living up to the requisite conditions. To view the cosmos this way is to believe in God.